How To Safely Work On An Asbestos Flue

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1 Introduction to asbestos essentials Comprehensive guidance on working with asbestos in the building maintenance and allied trades This is a free-to-download, web-friendly version of HSG213 (first edition, published 2001). This version has been adapted for online use from HSE s current printed version. You can buy the book at and most good bookshops. ISBN Price This publication is aimed at employers, contract managers, site agents, safety representatives, and self-employed contractors involved in maintaining buildings and associated plant. Maintenance workers may come across asbestos in the course of their work. This book gives advice on what those responsible must do to ensure the health and safety of maintenance workers who may encounter asbestos. HSE Books Page 1 of 51

2 Crown copyright 2001 First published 2001 Reprinted 2001 ISBN All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Applications for reproduction should be made in writing to: The Office of Public Sector Information, Information Policy Team, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU or This guidance is issued by the Health and Safety. Following the guidance is not compulsory and you are free to take other action. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to this guidance as illustrating good practice. Page 2 of 51

3 Contents Asbestos building 4 Preface 5 Introduction 6 Who needs to use this guidance? 6 Why is guidance needed? 7 How to use this guidance 8 What is asbestos? 9 How can asbestos affect you? 9 Where can you find asbestos? 10 What the law requires 14 Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 1987 (as amended) (the CAW Regulations) 14 The Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations 1983 (as amended) 16 Asbestos (Prohibitions) Regulations 1992 (as amended) 17 Construction (Design and Management Regulations 1994 (CDM) and Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 (CHSW) 17 Managing the risk from work with asbestos 18 The hazards and risks of ACMs 18 Managing the risk 20 When is the risk greatest? 21 What should you do first? 23 Step 1 Look for asbestos 23 Step 2 Decide if there is a problem 25 Step 3 Decide what action to take 27 Step 4 Record your findings and take action 28 Step 5 Check what you have done and review your assessment 28 Emergency call-out procedures 29 Working safely: General considerations 30 Other hazards 31 Training 32 Area preparation 32 Area segregation 32 General good work practices 34 Equipment and materials 35 Where can you buy or hire this equipment? 36 What do you do if ACMs are found or accidentally disturbed? 37 Waste handling 38 Protective clothing 38 Respiratory protective equipment (RPE) 39 Provision of cleaning and hygiene facilities 42 Clearance testing 42 Air monitoring 43 Waste disposal 44 Task guidance and equipment and method guidance sheets 49 References 49 Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 3 of 51

4 l 1 l 4 l 3 l 2 l 14 l 38 l 18 l 17 Health and Safety Note: This diagram does not show all possible uses and locations of asbestos-containing materials. A detailed survey will be required to identify all asbestos-containing materials present in a building l l 13 l ll l 19 l 29 l7 l l 9 l 27 l 35 l 28 l 30 l 7 l 15 l 23 l 7 l 10 l8 l 11 l ll Roof and exterior walls 1 Roof sheets and tiles 2 Guttering and drainpipe 3 Wall cladding 4 Soffit/facia boards 5 Panel beneath window 6 Roofing felt and coating to metal wall cladding Boiler, vessels and pipework 7 Lagging on boiler, pipework, calorifier etc. 8 Damaged lagging and associated debris 9 Paper lining under non-asbestos pipe lagging 10 Gasket in pipe and vessel joints 11 Rope seal on boiler access hatch and between cast iron boiler sections 12 Paper lining inside steel boiler casing 13 Boiler flue l ll l l l l Ceilings 14 Spray coating to ceiling, walls, beams/columns 15 Loose asbestos in ceiling/floor cavity 16 Tiles, slats, canopies and firebreaks above ceilings 17 Textured coatings and paints l ll l Interior walls 18 Loose asbestos inside partition walls 19 Partition walls 20 Panel beneath window 21 Panel lining to lift shaft 22 Panelling to vertical and horizontal beams 23 Panel behind electrical equipment 24 Panel on access hatch to service riser 25 Panel lining service riser and floor 26 Heater cupboard around domestic boiler 27 Panel behind/under heater 28 Panel on or inside, fire door 29 Bath panel l ll l 5 l ll l ll l ll l 22 l Flooring materials l ll l 39 l l l ll l 16 l 24 l 31 l 6 l 20 Further information can be found in the HSE publication MDHS100 Surveying, sampling and assessment of asbestos-containing materials 8 l 25 l 34 l l 32 l33 l Floor tiles, linoleum and paper backing, lining to suspended floor Air handling systems 31 Lagging 32 Gaskets 33 Anti-vibration gaiter Domestic appliances 34 Gaskets, rope seals and panels in domestic boilers 35 Caposil insulating blocks, panels, paper, string etc in domestic heater 36 String seals on radiators Other 37 Fire blanket 38 Water tank 39 Brake/clutch lining Asbestos building Typical locations for the most common asbestos containing materials Key Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 4 of 51

5 Preface Asbestos was the main cause of occupational ill health in the second half of the twentieth century. The legacy from high exposures until the 1970s is now responsible for between 2000 and 3000 people dying from asbestos-related cancers every year. These deaths are tragic for the people involved and cause pain and suffering to relatives, friends and colleagues. They also cost the country money. If the proper management procedures had been in place and the correct work practices used by well-trained and equipped workers, most of these deaths could have been avoided. To ensure that high levels of exposure do not occur during work on asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), HSE has put in place a rigorous regulatory and licensing regime, backed up by comprehensive practical guidance. This guidance adds to the scheme by providing guidance on maintenance work with ACMs which does not fall under the Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations 1983 (as amended). Remember Using this guidance can help prevent you or your employees joining those who have died from an asbestos-related disease. You can get further advice from the British Institute of Occupational Hygienists (BIOH) Tel: ; Asbestos Testing and Consultancy (ATAC) who are a division of the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA) Tel: ; the Asbestos Control and Abatement Division (ACAD) Tel: ; your trade association or HSE s InfoLine: Tel: Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 5 of 51

6 Introduction Who needs to use this guidance? 1 This guidance is aimed at anyone who is liable to control or carry out maintenance work with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) which does not require a licence from HSE. Remember Work with any type of ACM is potentially dangerous. If you have any doubts that you or your employees can carry out the work safely, employ a specialist contractor licensed by HSE. You can get details of licensed asbestos removal contractors from HSE s InfoLine Tel: This guidance will be particularly useful to employers, contract managers, site agents, safety representatives and self-employed contractors involved in maintaining buildings and associated plant. Examples of the wide range of trades where workers may come across ACMs during their normal day-to-day work (not in order of risk) include: demolition contractors; electricians; roofing contractors; painters and decorators; construction contractors; joiners; heating and ventilation engineers; plumbers; telecommunications engineers; gas fitters; fire and burglar alarm installers; plasterers; general maintenance staff; builders; computer installers; shop fitters; building surveyors. The practical guidance given in the separate publication, Asbestos essentials: Task manual 1 will be of particular use to employees who carry out maintenance work on ACMs. 3 This list is by no means exhaustive. If your trade is not included, it does not mean that you or your employees are not in danger. The list illustrates that asbestos was used widely. Anyone whose work causes disturbance to the fabric of a building or plant may be at risk of exposure to asbestos. Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 6 of 51

7 Why is this guidance needed? 4 In 1995 an influential scientific paper 2 identified the largest group of workers currently at risk from exposure to asbestos fibres (see paragraph 2 3). Workers in these and similar trades may encounter asbestos during their normal day-to-day work. 5 This research showed that people are dying each year from asbestos-related diseases, in particular mesothelioma (see paragraph 20). About a quarter of these deaths are in the types of trades listed in paragraph 2. Figure 1 Asbestos paper lining Figure 2 Asbestos rope seal 6 These deaths are mainly due to high exposures to asbestos before today s Regulations were introduced. However, these trades can still come across ACMs and may have to work on them. For example, Figures 1 and 2 show typical ACMs you may find when carrying out maintenance work in a building. 7 The type of work you can carry out is restricted by the Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations 1983 (as amended) (see paragraphs 37 41). Reasonably Practicable Reducing exposure so far as reasonably practicable means that: you must reduce exposure to the point where there is a big difference between, on the one hand, the sacrifice (in money, time or trouble) that would be involved in further measures and, on the other hand, the risks from exposure (which should be insignificant). 8 Exposure to asbestos fibres can occur when ACMs are not identified before work is started or when the work is badly planned. Table 1 gives some examples of the exposures which can occur during a range of tasks. Compare these with the control limits in Table 2 (see also paragraphs 33 36) Table 1 Typical exposures to asbestos fibres, where poor control measures and work practices have been used (fibres per millilitre of air (f/ml)) Task Typical exposure (f/ml) Dry removal of sprayed (limpet) coating up to 1000 Dry removal of lagging up to 100 Drilling AIB up to 10 Use of a jigsaw on AIB up to 20 Hand sawing AIB up to 10 Sweeping AIB debris up to 100 Drilling AC up to 1 Hand sawing AC up to 1 Use of a circular saw on AC up to 20 AIB: Asbestos insulating board AC: Asbestos cement Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 7 of 51

8 9 If ACMs are identified and the work is planned and carried out using the proper precautions, exposure can either be prevented or reduced to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable. 10 Put simply, people will not be exposed to asbestos fibres unless the material is disturbed, making the fibres airborne. But, any activity which disturbs an ACM can, if not controlled, result in exposure of workers to asbestos fibres. 11 Figure 3 shows a piece of asbestos lagging being gently shaken. Note the cloud of dust above the lagging. This will contain a large number of microscopic asbestos fibres. This illustrates how easily fibres can be made airborne (the potential to release fibres varies with the type of ACM and the task being carried out see paragraphs 54 58). How to use this guidance Figure 3 A piece of asbestos lagging being gently shaken 12 This guidance takes you through a number of steps to help you prevent or, where this is not reasonably practicable, control exposure to asbestos (Figure 4). It first helps you decide if you have a problem (for example are ACMs present?) and what to do about it. Will the work involve disturbing asbestos? Yes No No further action Decide if you can do it Yes No Use a specialist contractor licensed by HSE What tasks will be involved? Prepare a plan of work Use the guidance in this booklet and the appropriate sheets from Asbestos essentials: Task manual Carry out the task Check what you have done Figure 4 A stepwise approach to using this guidance Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 8 of 51

9 13 It then provides practical general advice on good work practices and the type of equipment needed, for example a Type H vacuum cleaner. This information is supported by Asbestos essentials: Task manual 1 which explains how to carry out common tasks safely. This publication is explained in more detail in paragraphs General guidance on safe working with asbestos cement is given in Working with asbestos cement. 3 Guidance on carrying out specific tasks with asbestos cement is given in the task guidance sheets, A9 A16. 1 What is asbestos? 15 Asbestos is a term used for the fibrous forms of several naturally occurring minerals. 16 The three main types of asbestos which have been commercially used are: crocidolite (often referred to as blue asbestos ); amosite (often referred to as brown asbestos ); chrysotile (often referred to as white asbestos ). (Figure 5 shows bundles of microscopic brown (amosite) asbestos fibres. These would not be visible to the naked eye.) 17 All are dangerous, but blue and brown asbestos are known to be more dangerous than white. The different types cannot usually be identified by their colour alone. Figure 5 Bundles of microscopic brown asbestos fibres 18 Where asbestos is affected by heat or chemicals, or combined with other substances, the colour and appearance can change. 19 There is no simple test to identify the different types of asbestos. Laboratory analysis is required. They often occur as mixtures and unless you are sure which type of asbestos fibres are present you must treat the material as if it contains blue or brown. How can asbestos affect you? 20 Breathing in asbestos fibres can lead to people developing one of three fatal diseases: asbestosis which is a scarring of the lung; lung cancer; mesothelioma which is a cancer of the lining around the lungs and stomach. 21 These diseases can take from years to develop, from first exposure so you or your employees would not be aware of any sudden change in health after breathing in asbestos. Remember It is the precautions you take now which will affect your, or your employees, health in the future. Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 9 of 51

10 22 In general, the likelihood that people may develop one of these diseases will increase with: the type of asbestos fibre they are exposed to (blue and brown asbestos are more dangerous than white); the younger they are when exposure starts; the number of fibres they breathe in; the number of times they are exposed; smoking. 23 Asbestos fibres enter your body when you breathe. The body can get rid of the larger fibres, but microscopic fibres can pass into the lungs where they can cause disease. They can stay there for many years. 24 It is because fibres can remain in the lungs for so long that small, but repeated, exposures on different jobs over the years can lead to the development of an asbestos-related disease. This is why it is important to prevent or control exposure on every single job. 25 The body naturally gets rid of any asbestos fibres taken in with food and water. Asbestos fibres cannot be absorbed through the skin. 26 It is important to remember that people who smoke and are exposed to asbestos fibres are at greater risk of developing lung cancer than those who do not smoke. If you smoke and carry out maintenance work on ACMs, consider giving up. 27 The best way to make sure that you or your employees do not develop one of these diseases is to avoid disturbing ACMs, or, where this is unavoidable, to keep exposures as low as reasonably practicable. Where can you find asbestos? 28 ACMs have been put to many uses over the past century. A drawing of an asbestos building is given on the inside front cover. This shows typical locations for the most commonly used ACMs. Note, it does not include all the possible uses for ACMs you may come across. 29 The commercial use of asbestos in the UK began around the end of the nineteenth century and increased gradually until World War II. Immediately after World War II, large quantities of asbestos were used, particularly for new systembuilt buildings in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. ACMs were routinely used in the refurbishment of older buildings. 30 Asbestos has been the subject of gradual voluntary and formal bans since By 1999 the importation, supply and use of all forms of ACMs had been banned (see paragraphs 42 45). 31 Figures 6 27 show some of the most common types of ACMs which you can come across in a building. Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 10 of 51

11 Figure 6 Perforated AIB ceiling tiles Figure 7 Asbestos cement roof Figure 8 Window sill reinforced with asbestos Figure 9 Asbestos fire blanket Figure 10 Flexible asbestos duct connector (gaiter) Figure 11 Metal/asbestos flue pipe the asbestos is between the inner and outer layers of stainless steel Figure 12 Asbestos cement tank Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 11 of 51

12 Figure 13 Built-up bituminous roofing containing asbestos Figure 14 Decorative coating containing asbestos Figure 15 Asbestos cement drainpipe Figure 16 Sanitary wear incinerator the opening can be backed with an asbestos cement panel. The flue can also be made of asbestos cement Figure 17 Asbestos cement flue external Figure 18 Domestic hot water cylinder lagged with asbestos Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 12 of 51

13 Figure 19 Domestic hot water cylinder with asbestos removed, lagged with a nonasbestos jacket Figure 20 The same cylinder as Figure 19. Note the asbestos debris from a previous poor removal job Figure 21 Asbestos rope seal and soft panelling on the burner/heat exchanger of a domestic boiler Figure 22 Debris from an asbestos gasket on a pipe flange Figure 24 Asbestos cement flue in a ceiling void Figure 23 Asbestos pipe lagging Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 13 of 51

14 Figure 25 Sectional caposite asbestos pipe lagging Figure 26 Asbestos rope pipe lagging Figure 27 Sprayed limpet coating which has been partly removed What the law requires Control of asbestos at work regulations 1987 (as amended) (the CAW Regulations) 32 These Regulations require employers or the self-employed to prevent exposure to asbestos, or, where this is not reasonably practicable, to make sure that it is kept as low as reasonably practicable, and in any case below the control limit (see paragraphs 33 36). Remember These Regulations apply to work with all types of ACMs and place duties on both employers and the self-employed. Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 14 of 51

15 33 The CAW Regulations give control limits for the different types of asbestos fibre. A control limit is a maximum concentration of asbestos fibres in the air (averaged over any continuous four-hour or ten-minute period). Employees must not be exposed above this level and exposure should be reduced as low as reasonably practicable below the control limit. This must be achieved by measures other than respiratory protective equipment (RPE), for example by using the methods given in Asbestos essentials: Task manual. 1 Where this cannot be achieved, RPE must be worn to reduce exposure as low as reasonably practicable and in any case below the control limit. 34 Both the four-hour and ten-minute periods have their own control limits, the values of which vary depending on the type of asbestos present. The control limits are given in Table Action levels apply to exposure in the longer term, and are cumulative exposures calculated over any continuous twelve-week period. The twelve-week period should not be chosen in such a way as to avoid exceeding an action level; it should represent a worst-case for the work being undertaken. The action levels are given in Table 2. Table 2 Control limits and action levels for asbestos Asbestos type 4-hour control limit (f/ml) 10-minute control limit (f/ml) Action level (fibre hrs/ml) White asbestos alone Any other form of asbestos, either alone or in mixtures, including mixtures of white asbestos with any other form of asbestos If an action level is exceeded you will need to comply with a number of additional regulations within the CAW Regulations. You will need to: notify the enforcing authority responsible for the site where you are working (for example HSE or the Local Authority); designate the work area (see paragraphs ); pay for your employees to undergo medical surveillance. Further information can be found in the Approved Code of Practice, Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations. 4 Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 15 of 51

16 The Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations 1983 (as amended) 37 Under these Regulations, anyone carrying out work on asbestos insulation, asbestos coating or asbestos insulating board (AIB) will need a licence issued by HSE (this includes work on the ACM and subsequent cleaning of any contaminated dust or debris). The exceptions to these requirements are: when a person does not work with asbestos insulation, asbestos coating or AIB for more than one hour in seven consecutive days (this is all jobs within the seven days) and the total time spent on that work by all employees does not exceed two hours; when the work is carried out on your own premises using your own specially trained and equipped employees. Although you must still give formal notification (14 days) of such work to the relevant enforcing authority, for example HSE. when the work is limited to air monitoring (see paragraphs ) or the collection of bulk samples to identify whether asbestos is present; clearance testing (see paragraphs ). 38 It is important that the amount of time you or your employees spend working with asbestos insulation, asbestos coatings or AIB is managed to make sure that they do not exceed the time limits given in paragraph Figure 28 shows an office built from AIB inside a warehouse. If you wanted to demolish the office you would exceed the time limits given in paragraph 37. The job would need to be carried out by a specialist contractor licensed by HSE. But, you would be able to drill holes in the wall to pass a wire through, as long as the time limits were not exceeded. Or, you could remove a single screwed-in piece of AIB (see A1 Drilling holes in asbestos insulating board and A4 Removal of a single screwed-in asbestos insulating board less than 2m 2 in area respectively). 1 Figure 28 An office made from AIB 40 Work on the following materials is also outside these Regulations: asbestos cement; articles made of rubber, plastic, resin or bitumen which contain asbestos, for example vinyl floor tiles, electric cables and roofing felt; other insulation products which may be used at high temperatures but have no insulation purposes, for example gaskets, washers, ropes and seals. Remember You will need to include time spent building a mini-enclosure or carrying out final clearing work in your time estimate (see paragraph 37). Although you may not need a licence to carry out a particular job you will still need to comply with the requirements of the CAW Regulations. 41 Further information can be found in the flow chart in Figure 41 and the HSE publication, A guide to the Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations. 5 Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 16 of 51

17 Asbestos (Prohibitions) Regulations 1992 (as amended) 42 These Regulations prohibit the importation, supply and use of all forms of asbestos. Blue and brown asbestos were banned in 1985 and the remaining uses of white asbestos banned in It is therefore illegal to import, supply or use raw asbestos or new products containing it, and to supply or use existing products for a new purpose. Products in use before the date the Regulations came into force can continue to be used until such time as they need to be replaced. The Regulations also specifically ban the use of second-hand asbestos cement products, and of second-hand boards, tiles or panels which have been painted or covered with paint or textured plaster containing asbestos. 43 The 1999 Prohibitions Amendment Regulations permit the continued use of white asbestos for a limited period in a few specialised areas, where there is no suitable substitute available. With one exception, all new uses of asbestos will have ceased by January Figure 29 Asbestos rope seal in a domestic boiler 44 Figure 29 shows an asbestos rope seal, containing white asbestos, between the heat exchanger and flue on a domestic boiler. This material can remain in use until the end of its service life. However, if it needs to be replaced, a suitable asbestos-free material must be used. 45 Nevertheless, it may be a good idea to remove the asbestos product if the unit has been dismantled and to replace it with a suitable non-asbestos substitute. This will prevent further exposure when the unit is next worked on. Remember These Regulations apply to new uses for asbestos. ACMs may be left in place and managed. Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 (CDM) and Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 (CHSW) 46 You must also comply with the: Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 (CDM); and Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 CHSW). Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 17 of 51

18 47 Further guidance can be found in the Approved Code of Practice Managing construction for health and safety 6 which accompanies the CDM Regulations and the leaflet A guide to the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996, 7 respectively. Managing the risk from work with asbestos Hazard Hazard means anything that can cause harm (for example asbestos). Risk This is the chance, high or low, that somebody will be harmed by the hazard. The hazards and risks of ACMs 48 Asbestos can cause a number of fatal lung diseases. This is what is known as the hazard. 49 The hazard will vary with the type of asbestos fibre in the material. All forms of asbestos are dangerous, but blue and brown are more dangerous than white. It is quite common for ACMs to contain a mixture of fibre types. Unless you are sure of the type of asbestos present, for example by having a representative sample analysed by a laboratory, you must treat the material as if it contains blue or brown asbestos. 50 Figure 23 shows asbestos-lagged pipework, which can contain a mixture of all three types of asbestos fibre. 51 The type of asbestos fibre used in the manufacture of different products often varied over the years, for example white asbestos was the main form used in the manufacture of asbestos cement, however, blue asbestos was used from and brown asbestos between 1945 to around Asbestos cement containing blue or brown asbestos would pose a greater hazard than if it contained white asbestos alone. 52 If ACMs are damaged or disturbed, fibres can get into the air more easily than if they are undamaged and undisturbed. Remember If the ACMs are kept in good condition and left undisturbed, fibres will not get into the air where they can be breathed in. ACMs should only be worked on when it is absolutely necessary. 53 Once they are in the air, fibres can be breathed in. This is called exposure. The higher the exposure, the greater the risk. (Hazard x exposure = risk) 54 Exposure is influenced by the type of material in which the fibres are bound, for example, a loosely bound sprayed limpet asbestos coating is more likely to release fibres when disturbed than asbestos cement where the fibres are firmly bound in the cement matrix (Figures 30 and 31). Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 18 of 51

19 Figure 30 Distance (left) and close up (right) pictures of sprayed limpet asbestos coatings. These can contain up to 85% asbestos which is loosely bound. This type of material readily releases fibres when disturbed Figure 31 Asbestos cement generally contains 10 15% asbestos fibre bound in a cement matrix. Because the fibres are firmly bound in the cement matrix they will only be released if the material is subject to significant disturbance, such as drilling or sawing 55 The potential for fibres to be released into the air from different ACMs can be ranked as follows: HIGH Sprayed coatings/loose fill Lagging and packings AIB Rope and gaskets Millboard and paper Asbestos cement Floor tiles, mastic and roof felt Decorative paints and plasters LOW Remember The fact that work is on ACMs with a lower potential to release fibres does not mean that it is safe. It must still be managed and the proper precautions taken. Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 19 of 51

20 56 The level of exposure will also depend on the task being carried out. Tasks which cause significant disturbance to the ACMs will result in more fibres being released into the air. 57 The same task carried out on different types of ACMs can result in different levels of exposure. For example, drilling AIB will result in much higher exposures than similar work on asbestos cement, as it has a higher fibre content than asbestos cement (16 40% compared with 10 15%). Also, the fibres are more firmly bound into the matrix of the asbestos cement and therefore less likely to be made airborne. Figure 32 shows an asbestos cement flue on a domestic boiler. 58 Exposure will also depend on how the task is being carried out and the precautions you take. You can reduce exposure by taking the right precautions. Table 3 gives some examples of comparative activities with high and lower potential to cause fibres to be released. 59 The level of risk will therefore depend on a combination of: Figure 32 Asbestos cement flue on a domestic boiler the type of asbestos fibre; the type of ACMs, for example sprayed coating, lagging, AIB, asbestos cement etc; the task being carried out; the precautions taken to prevent or control exposure Table 3 Examples of comparable activities with a high and lower potential to cause fibres to be released High Abrasive power and pneumatic tools without local exhaust ventilation (LEV) Working on dry ACMs Sweeping Wire brushing Breaking AIB tiles Lower Hand tools/use of LEV Working on damp ACMs Vacuuming with a Type H vacuum cleaner (BS5415) (see paragraph 124) Gentle scraping using shadow vacuuming (see paragraph 124) Unscrewing AIB tiles and removing whole Managing the risk 60 Paragraphs explain the steps you can take to identify whether the work you plan to carry out could present a danger to you, your employees, and others and then decide what to do about it. 61 When you are assessing a job you must consult and work with any Safety Representatives appointed under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977, or where your employees are not represented by a trade union representative, consult them on matters relating to health and safety at work in accordance with the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 20 of 51

21 62 This is important, not only because it is a legal requirement, but also because your employees will often be able to provide valuable information on problems they come across when working with ACMs and how to work safely. 63 For the purposes of this guidance, managing the risk from asbestos is often very simple and a matter of common sense. By managing the risk, you are helping to prevent you or your employees becoming asbestos-related statistics. Remember Asbestos does not kill people at work immediately as would, for example falling off a roof or being hit by a fork lift truck. Some cancers can take up to 60 years to develop. Once cancer has developed there is no cure and sufferers will die a painful death. What you do about this now can affect the well-being of you or your employees for decades to come. You will not see any immediate health benefits but you can be sure that you are investing in the future health of yourself and your employees. It is vital that you get it right today, otherwise it may be too late. When is the risk greatest? 64 Paragraph 2 gives examples of the types of maintenance trades where the greatest number of workers are at risk from exposure to asbestos. Because of the nature of their work, workers in these and similar trades are likely to disturb the fabric of a building or plant. There is the potential for you or your employees to be exposed to asbestos fibres, because: you are working on an unfamiliar site; ACMs were not identified before the job started; ACMs were identified but the information was not given to the people doing the work; you or your employees do not know how to recognise and work safely with asbestos; you or your employees know how to work safely but you do not take the proper precautions. Case Study Contractors removing a partition wall in a secure area containing a safe did not know that the void between the inner and outer partition walls was filled with loose brown (amosite) asbestos. The walls were removed and carried, unwrapped, from the fifth floor of the building to a general skip. By the time it was realised that asbestos was present they had spread contamination along the whole route, including the lift. Consultants called in to assess the extent of the contamination confirmed that asbestos debris was present and that asbestos fibres were in the air. A specialist asbestos removal contractor was called in to decontaminate the affected areas. This simple mistake led to the contractors and office workers being exposed to asbestos, disruption of the building during the decontamination and a bill for many thousands of pounds. Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 21 of 51

22 65 The example in the box above illustrates why it is important that management have clear procedures in place to ensure that: ACMs have been identified if you are working on your own site; information is obtained about the presence of ACMs when working on someone else s site; in both cases, this information is given to the people in control of the work and to the workers doing the job; the appropriate actions and precautions are taken; appropriate equipment is provided; adequate training is given; there is adequate supervision. 66 Otherwise, it is possible that ACMs will be unknowingly disturbed or inadequate precautions taken. This will put people s health at risk. Figure 33 shows a damaged AIB partition wall. This type of damage can happen when ACMs are not identified before work starts. Figure 33 AIB wall panels badly damaged during poorly planned and uncontrolled work 67 Failure to have such procedures can lead to: exposure of you, your employees and others to asbestos fibres; future ill health; costly decontamination. This can be much more expensive than the cost of dealing with the asbestos in the first place; prosecution; adverse publicity for your company; compensation claims; higher insurance premiums. Case Study A school had been surveyed for ACMs. The council employed consultants to supervise the removal of asbestos lagging from ceiling voids, the boiler room and the under floor duct. However, at the same time an engineer was drilling into AIB ceiling tiles in the school foyer without using any precautions. The engineer would have been exposed to asbestos fibres, his work clothing and the immediate area contaminated with asbestos debris. This example illustrates how an otherwise well-run management system can fail simply because of a lack of communication (on behalf of the council) and of awareness about asbestos (on the side of the engineer). Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 22 of 51

23 What should you do first? 68 There are five steps that you should follow when assessing the risk to yourself or your employees and deciding what to do: Step 1: Look for asbestos Step 2: Decide if there is a problem Step 3: Decide what action to take Step 4: Record your findings and take action Step 5: Check what you have done and review your assessment Step 1 Look for asbestos 69 If you are working on your own premises you must manage the risks from ACMs which may be present. Where you are working on someone else s premises, the employer (your client) in control of any work on those premises must manage the risks from any ACMs present on the premises. 70 The person in control of the work must inform you of the presence of ACMs during the planning of the work (if you are working on your own site you will need to determine this yourself). Do not rely on this as your only protection. You should make sure that you ask whether the area has been surveyed and what the findings were. Figure 34 shows pieces of AIB (one of the most common forms of ACM) and Figure 35 shows AIB ceiling tiles in a corridor. Figure 34 Pieces of AIB Figure 35 Suspended AIB ceiling tiles in a corridor 71 It is also important to remember that debris from damaged ACMs can be found near the parent material. It may also be left over from the installation of ACMs, for example, Figure 36 shows the installation of a sprayed limpet asbestos coating many years ago. This method of application frequently resulted in ACM being sprayed onto surrounding areas. Figure 36 Installing a sprayed limpet coating Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 23 of 51

24 72 Debris can be easily disturbed by people working in an area. So, exposure can occur even if the task does not directly involve work on ACMs. This debris will normally need to be removed. Figure 37 Asbestos debris on an electrical box, adjacent to a machine which was used to make bituminous roofing felt containing asbestos 73 Figure 37 shows an electrical switch box, next to a machine which had been used to make bituminous roofing felt containing asbestos. Wet white asbestos had splattered the switch box. Although there were no ACMs nearby, anyone working on the box could be exposed to the material if it was disturbed after it had dried out. 74 Figure 38 shows a piece of debris from a sprayed limpet asbestos coating (brown asbestos) on a cable tray. 75 If the area has not been surveyed, work should not start until a survey has been carried out to check for the presence of ACMs. Further information on carrying out surveys can be found in Surveying, sampling and assessment of asbestoscontaining materials. 8 Specialist advice can be obtained from the organisations listed on page vii. Remember Don t forget to ask: Has this area been checked for ACMs? Figure 38 Asbestos debris in a cable tray 8 Figure 39 A workman has broken through a brick wall. This disturbed a previously hidden lining of AIB. 76 If there are no ACMs in the area where you plan to carry out the work, there is no need to take any further action as far as asbestos is concerned. However, there may be other hazards, such as working at heights, which you will need to address. 77 However, it is important that you and your employees are aware that it is possible for ACMs to be uncovered during the course of the job (see Figure 39). If you suspect that any material contains asbestos, even if the area has previously been declared asbestos-free you should stop work until the material has been investigated by a competent person (see paragraphs ). 78 Figure 40 shows a section of damaged AIB in a kitchen. This material had not been identified during the asbestos survey. It was uncovered by ventilation engineers who damaged the AIB before they realised what it was. This led to contamination of the kitchen and the exposure of the engineers and kitchen staff to asbestos fibres. Work was delayed for a day while the area was decontaminated. 79 A similar problem can occur if the scope of the work changes during the job. This could bring additional areas or equipment within its scope. Work should not take place until the asbestos register (a record of the presence of ACMs) has been consulted or the area surveyed. Remember You and your employees should always be alert to the danger presented by hidden ACMs. Figure 40 Damaged AIB Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 24 of 51

25 Step 2 Decide if there is a problem 80 You will now know whether ACMs are present. What you now need to do is decide whether anyone is likely to be exposed to asbestos fibres and how much, as a result of the work. This is often referred to as a risk assessment. 81 To do this you will need to find out what the work will involve, for example: the type and quantity of ACMs present; the condition of the ACMs (if damaged the risk may be greater); which tasks will directly disturb the ACMs, for example drilling AIB; which tasks could indirectly disturb ACMs, for example removing a door with the AIB backing panel intact; how the work will be carried out, which methods will be used to prevent or control exposure, including the use of personal protective equipment; the likely levels of exposure; how long the job will take; any other information relevant to safe working practices, for example prevention of falls. Further information on carrying out risk assessments for work with asbestos can be found in the CAW Approved Code of Practice It is also important that you find out who may be affected by your work. Don t forget that there may be other people present besides you or your employees, for example: other workers in the vicinity of the job; visitors; the public. 83 You must pay particular attention to young workers or trainees who may be at special risk because of their lack of experience. 84 If a number of jobs are very similar you need only carry out one detailed risk assessment which will cover all of them. But, you will still need to check that the jobs really are similar and that your work will not affect others. Also, if there is a change in the type of work being carried out or the way you do it then you will need to review the assessment. 85 Some of the materials you use may contain hazardous substances, for example solvents in adhesive sprays. You will need to assess exposure under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH). Where reasonably practicable you should use products containing the least hazardous components. Otherwise you will need to control exposure as determined by your assessment. Further information can be found in COSHH: A brief guide to the Regulations. 9 Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 25 of 51

26 Can the work be carried out without disturbing the ACM? Yes Carry out the work avoiding disturbing ACM No No Does the work involve disturbance of asbestos insulation, coating or board? Yes Notify the enforcing authority Will the work result in a person working for more than 1 hour in 7 consecutive days or will the time spent by all people on the work be over 2 hours? No Yes Yes Is the work to be carried out on your own site by your own specially trained employees? No Plan the work so that the minimum number of people are present A specialist contractor licensed by HSE must be used Do you have sufficient training and equipment to do the work? Yes No Use a non-licensed contractor with the necessary expertise or a specialist contractor licensed by HSE Prepare a plan of work using the task guidance sheets and the information in paragraphs Figure 41 A simple decision flow chart. This will help you decide who should carry out the work Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 26 of 51

27 Step 3 Decide what action to take 86 Using the information collected in Steps 1 and 2, you can take one of three decisions (Figure 41): the work must be carried out by a specialist contractor licensed by HSE; the work can be carried out without a licence but someone with more expertise, appropriate equipment etc than yourself is needed to do it; the work can be carried out without a licence and you have adequate training and equipment to do it safely. 87 If you can, and choose to carry out the work yourself, you should: Figure 42 A plastic enclosure for use when drilling AIB where reasonably practicable, plan the work so that ACMs are not disturbed; develop a safe system of work. You can do this by using the general advice given in paragraphs and then choosing the appropriate guidance sheets from Asbestos essentials: Task manual, 1 for example, Figure 42 shows attachments which can be used when drilling small and large holes in AIB; Figure 43 shows one in use (EM4 Using a Type H vacuum cleaner when working with asbestos and A1 Drilling holes in asbestos insulating board respectively). 1 This will form the basis of the plan of work for the job. 88 The plan of work should include: Figure 43 A plastic enclosure in use the nature and likely duration of the work; the address and location of the work; when the work should be carried out; the work procedures and precautions to be taken to reduce exposure to as low as reasonably practicable and prevent the spread of asbestos, for example, Figure 44 shows LEV being used when unscrewing AIB; the equipment required, including personal protective equipment; decontamination; emergency procedures; whether replacement non-acms are required; the level of supervision required. This will vary with the nature and extent of the work. Remember Figure 44 Using LEV during unscrewing AIB Your first aim should be to prevent exposure. Where this not possible you should reduce exposure as far as reasonably practicable. 89 The plan of work and Asbestos essentials: Task manual 1 should be issued to the workers carrying out the tasks. The task manual contains task guidance sheets and the equipment and method guidance sheets (see paragraphs ). It is important that the correct task guidance sheets are used. It is not good enough to use a similar one. Remember It is important that the workers carrying out the procedures in the plan of work understand it and have received adequate training. Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 27 of 51

28 90 It is no good producing a safe plan of work if you do not provide your employees with the tools to do the job. The equipment you provide should be appropriate for the job, clean and in good working order. 91 Although site conditions can change, the jobs/tasks that people carry out may be similar. Consequently, it can be possible to prepare generic plans of work. These would only require minor modification to highlight where ACMs can be found and any other specific requirements of the site. 92 A copy of the assessment and plan of work should be kept readily available at the work site and be followed. If there is a need to modify the plan of work, this should be agreed with the site supervisor or client. Finally you should ask yourself: Have I done all that I can to prevent or reduce exposure to asbestos fibres? Step 4 Record your findings and take action 93 You need to make sure that everyone involved in the work is fully aware of the plan of work and why each action is being taken. They should also be properly equipped for, and trained in, the procedures laid down in the plan of work. 94 If you have fewer than five employers you do not have to record the findings of your assessment, but it is useful to do so. If you employ more than five employees, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires you to record the significant findings of your assessment. 10 Step 5 Check what you have done and review your assessment 95 Good management is an ongoing process. Where the type of work changes you will need to repeat steps 1 to 4 to decide whether the risk has changed and if you will need to modify the plan of work. 96 You will also need to ensure that the systems that you have put in place to prevent or control the risk are being used correctly and are effective. The type of work covered in this guidance may be carried out anywhere on your site, or, if you are a contractor, on the site of your client. 97 It is therefore important that you have an effective system of supervision. This can range from a supervisor on a particular job to a safety advisor who can visit the site/job unannounced. 98 If you are self-employed, you will normally not have anyone who will check that you are working correctly. Because of this, it is important that you familiarise yourself fully with the advice given in this guidance and follow it closely. Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 28 of 51

29 99 To ensure that the measures you have taken are continuing to be effective you can make the following checks: make sure that everyone is following the plan of work; where necessary, monitor your employees exposure to asbestos fibres (see paragraphs ); regularly review your assessment of exposure; routinely clean, inspect and test all equipment; provide your employees with refresher training at appropriate intervals (see paragraphs ). Remember Good management will anticipate problems rather than deal with them after they have occurred. Work with any type of ACM is potentially dangerous. If you have any doubts about how to carry out the work safely it is recommended that you consider employing a specialist contractor licensed by HSE. Emergency call-out procedures 100 Wherever possible, work with asbestos should be carefully planned in advance. However, there will be situations where it may not be possible to prepare a specific assessment and plan of work, for example, a burst pipe behind an AIB panel in a department store at night. 101 This does not mean that you or your employees can cut corners. Remember It is in situations like these that high exposures can occur. Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 29 of 51

30 102 If you offer an emergency call-out service, you will need to presume that the work will involve disturbing ACMs so that you or your employees are aware and properly equipped. Err on the side of safety. Follow these simple steps: where you have an emergency call-out contract with a client, you should either have been made aware in advance of the location of ACMs or have an emergency contact number; if this cannot be done you should identify the types of emergency work commonly carried out and prepare generic assessments and plans of work which can be used in emergency situations. The assessment will need to detail the types of work which are likely to be carried out and those which must be carried out by a specialist contractor licensed by HSE; the people carrying out this type of work should be suitably equipped to work with ACMs where this proves necessary; the people carrying out the work should have sufficient training so that they are aware of what ACM looks like and what it was used for. They should be trained and able to follow the assessment and plan of work safely; if the people carrying out the work suspect that disturbance of ACMs may be extensive (ie beyond the scope of the generic assessment and equipment), they should not proceed until they have obtained further specialist advice (for example from management, an occupational hygienist or other health and safety professional, the enforcing authority etc). Warning Emergency call-out work is not an excuse for lower standards. You or your employees should not attempt work which is beyond the scope of your training and equipment, or which should be carried out by a specialist contractor licensed by HSE. The better trained and equipped you or your employees are, the less likely the work will need to be stopped. Working safely: General considerations 103 For the purposes of this guidance, managing the risk from asbestos is normally fairly simple. By following a few simple principles you can ensure that you or your employees are not put at risk while at work. It is important that managers and supervisors (including the self-employed) are aware of the hazards posed by asbestos, the risk presented by the work and the precautions to take. 104 You must also be committed to protecting your health and that of your workers. The death toll from asbestos-related diseases shows the level of suffering which can result from poor management and work practices. 105 This section provides guidance on general principles of control. Asbestos essentials: Task manual l provides guidance on how these principles can be applied to specific tasks. These can be used to draw up the plan of work. Introduction to asbestos essentials Page 30 of 51

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